One reason I prefer Paypal to Google Checkout: merchant receipts

Here’s a somewhat subtle, but important difference between eBay’s mainstay online payment system Paypal and the new upstart Google Checkout: the notification that merchants receive on completion of a transaction. I’ve been using Paypal for aeons so I’m very used to its email format and don’t really think much about it. Until now, at least.
When I signed up for Google Checkout (see: how to build Google Checkout ‘buy now’ buttons) I was subsequently pleased and delighted to receive any sort of transaction payments through their system since it’s brand new. But now that I’ve seen a number of them show up in my mailbox, the difference between the cool, useful Paypal merchant receipts and the ugly, confusing Google Checkout receipts is becoming more problematic.


The key difference between the two is that the Google Checkout receipt is a geeky “transaction log” sort of style, while Paypal offers up a much more understandable information block about the buyer including the all-important “note” section that lets them communicate directly with me as if it were an attached comment.
As someone who actively encourages these sort of comments and hopes to have people let me know why – in this case – they’re buying me a cup of coffee it’s darn frustrating that Google doesn’t offer that capability.
Worse, though, is that I get almost no information about the buyer. No name, no email address, no shipping address, no contact information at all other than an anonymized email address. But why hide that data? They just bought something from me and I am confident that they want me to be able to communicate with them and I really want to contact them to thank them too!
Let me show you. First, here’s a typical Google Checkout receipt:

Google Checkout: Merchant Receipt

and here’s the equivalent message from Paypal:
Paypal: Merchant Receipt

Now you tell me, which would you prefer, given the choice?
Google, let’s get on the ball with this one, please!

18 comments on “One reason I prefer Paypal to Google Checkout: merchant receipts

  1. You probably get swamped with this stuff anytime you post something about paypal, but, i have read so much bad stuff about paypal. I am starting to sell something, small business certainly, on the web, and paypal would be perfect. But i feel i can’t trust them.
    The two main issues seem to be: accounts frozen and accompanying lack of good customer relations, and lawsuits from same.
    What is your general experience with them?
    Any problems?
    And do you know of good alternatives? I have searched and found nothing.

  2. I am no PayPal genius, but have used their services for several transactions on my website, and have had nothing but success. Their “buy now” buttons take a little time to get used to, but they have some great built-in security (encrypted button information), clear information on how to use their services, and as you said in your blog above, clear e-mail messages anytime there is a transaction or any kind of change to my account.

  3. In truth , here is the REAL main difference between the two. Paypal is a “21st century version of Western-Union” It is a wiring service between any two parties for whatever reason. Dave, you like it because you can say to whoever sends you money… “Dude , thanks for the coffee” , there is alot of discrepency there and they will always charge a larger fee for that style of service. They wont ever be able to undercut the Google Fees because of the type of service they provide. And to be honest, your judgement says alot because the service is like a month old, and they have upgraded alot in the past few weeks, Their HitsCounter is a million times better than Ebays and their ORDER PAGE is just like everything else that Google produces, Its outstanding, Its all archived on there billion servers, and to all the people out there who are paranoid about the Google Monolith, who cares, are you that important that youre going to someday be some big-shot like a president or something where you have to worry about your transgressions? Nobody cares about what you do. Feel Free to watch porn or do whatever you want , nobody is going to care 15 years from now. And if you are still scared you must be trying to evade your taxes or something.
    To be really layman about this, EBAY/PAYPAL is the equivalent of your average PAWNSHOP/MONEY-WIRING-SERVICE. Yet, despite this the poor knuckleheads at Paypal dont realize what they are and they pretend that they are an FDIC Insured Banking Entity. I think its hilarious. They have a poor transaction process where any person can send money instantly to anyone but yet if one of those party’s fall into one of their policy pitfalls, both people on both sides of the deal are left with an abandoned transaction. Considering that is their policy , the fact that Paypal is owned and is the main subsidery of Ebay is a complete joke. Not in in of itself, although it is a monopoly but, its a joke because they punish their own customers, Paypal defers all the risk to their sellers with their policy of “instant payment without true protection.” Ebay has killed itself with its own arrogance. The company they bought doesnt even understand that if you want people to sell with you, dont rip them off and dont use them to advertise to gain more buyers. Why do you think its worth 24.00 a share. you can take 10.00 of that and add it to Google right now, ha ha. As for PayPal, with what I said in the first paragraph, thats pretty much all you need to know, its stock price is worth about as much as Western Union’s.
    If you want a professional-grade credit card-style transaction with professional-grade credit checks, and professional-grade confirmation records and professional-grade tax/business archives as well as, AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT, a professional-grade TRANSACTION PROCESS, WHERE YOU MUST INPUT THE TRACKING INFO BEFORE THE MONEY IS PROCESSED. WITHOUT ANY OF THIS, FROZEN ACCOUNT B.S AND LAME, TAKING MONEY BACK AFTER ITS ALREADY BEEN COMPLETED. PAYPAL THINKS ITS SOME KIND OF MONETARY GOD. END OF PAYPAL, GOODBYE TO THAT ARCHAIC SERVICE THAT SEEMS LIKE ITS FROM OUR PARENTS GENERATION

  4. It took me awhile to add this addendum because I cant add 13+19, but I read your disclaimer about deleting off topic comments and if you feel my comment doesnt meet your agenda, thats ok , you can be youre own little blog-facist if thats your style,im going to cut and paste my comments for the next blog that is overly attached to Paypal/Ebay.

  5. Sean has some points in there somewhere šŸ™‚ and I agree with him that PayPal has had some issues in the past. But I think the main point here – from a merchant point of view – is that Google is stepping too far into the transaction and it’s “shielding” the buyer from the seller. Business is built on long term relationships with customers and I don’t see how Google is helping the merchant by allowing basically anonymous purchases.

  6. Google Checkout tries to meet the needs of the merchants and buyers at the same time.
    Merchants want to own the customer relationship while consumers want to be protected from spam and giving all their information too hundreds of merchants out there.
    With Google Checkout, merchants still get the shipping address of the buyer. Send your snail mail spam and informational catalogues there.
    Merchants also get a way to communicate with the buyer via email / web-interface.
    The buyer decides whether this communication path is anonymized via randomly generated email addresses or not. This gives the buyer (and the merchant) the opportunity to opt-out from spam immediately.
    If the merchant plays nice and doesn’t abuse the email address by sending tons of spam, the buyer is inclined to keep the email contact, refraining from opting-out.
    I think it’s well balanced.

  7. Gern,
    Your comments are very interesting, but I’m having trouble understanding them.
    >EBAY/PAYPAL is the equivalent of your average PAWNSHOP/MONEY-WIRING-SERVICE
    Is this a bad thing? Isn’t wiring money a useful service?
    >If you want a professional-grade credit card-style transaction with professional-grade credit checks,
    Why would you need a credit check for Paypal? They don’t offer money on credit, they just transfer money you already have (or got from somewhere).
    >and professional-grade confirmation records and professional-grade tax/business archives as well as,
    Is the Paypal history download not enough? That’s more than most credit card companies offer.
    >AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT, a professional-grade TRANSACTION PROCESS, WHERE YOU MUST INPUT THE TRACKING INFO BEFORE THE MONEY IS PROCESSED
    Gern, what tracking info? All you need to complete a credit-card transaction is a CC number and an expiration date. Optionally, the vendor can ask for more info (address, etc.). But what tracking info?

  8. Um, HELLO you CAN communicate with your customer, if you read ANY of the Google guides, that random email address FOWARDS any email sent to it, to the REAL email address of the customer……geez at least get your info correct guy.

  9. i love paypal very bcos it is the best way and the easy way for me to scam on internet i use paypal to scam and all the seller fall for it when i use the paypal format for them cooooooooooooooolllllllllllll

  10. Regarding “Worse, though, is that I get almost no information about the buyer. No name, no email address, no shipping address, no contact information at all other than an anonymized email address. But why hide that data? They just bought something from me and I am confident that they want me to be able to communicate with them and I really want to contact them to thank them too!”
    This is exactly why paypal makes me (as a buyer) mad … I donate to various online things that I DO NOT WANT to share my name, address, etc with!! Wikipedia, gaming discussion boards, whatever … they don’t need it! I just wanted to throw a few bucks in the donation pile!

  11. Hi, in 2010,
    Google Checkout (2%+.20) currently is about half the fee as PayPal and you buy it on credit cards and enjoy the fraud protection of your credit card.
    PayPal is near double the fees (e.g., in the above transactions), and has you sign away your dispute rights, and all but forces you to stagnate money with PayPal for which they pay no fees to any credit cards, but take their 3%+.30 anyways. When governments do double taxation people get up in arms. But when PayPal does it, they are complacent.
    I don’t want to share my personal info with many vendors. Sorry, but I won’t prostitute my information just because someone buy me a cup of coffee.
    If communication is needed, Google Checkout gives buyers the vendor number and email. Sellers can communicate with Buyers through an interface that does not pass email addresses – only a need to know basis – the shipping address when needed.
    PayPal is a friction on the process when they get involved. My wallet is my own business and Google Checkout respects that. If I go into a store and buy a cup of coffee, I don’t need to be IDed if I don’t want to. Honestly, the world is full of too much SPAM and my personal information has value to them. Dave’c comments are like offering a girl a drink in a bar and then demanding her telephone number. Sorry all you geeks, trust is something you earn the old way.

  12. In 2010 here is the policy I am referring to above:
    Email Address Sharing and Forwarding
    When a transaction occurs, Google always provides you with an email address to contact the buyer. You can send correspondence to the buyer’s email address for order processing issues and, if the buyer consented to receive promotional email, for marketing purposes (see Google Checkout Program Policies and Guidelines, section 1). Depending on the buyer’s preferences, the email address provided to you through Google Checkout will either be the email address that the buyer used to register with Google or an email address that forwards through Google to the buyer’s registered email address. If the buyer prefers to forward email through Google and decides that he or she no longer wants to receive email from a specific merchant, the buyer can deactivate email forwarding from a specific merchant at any time.
    Google Checkout’s email forwarding feature helps increase the effectiveness of merchant email marketing in many ways. First, the feature gives buyers the confidence to consent to receive marketing emails, even from unfamiliar merchants. With email forwarding, the merchant sends promotional emails to a Google-maintained email address, and Google forwards the email on to the buyer. The buyer can always opt to turn off email forwarding from that merchant if the promotional emails are no longer desired. This feature may also give trusted merchants access to the buyer’s primary email address for marketing. Whereas many buyers provide merchants with a separate junk email address for promotional mail, Google Checkout is more likely to forward emails directly to customers’ primary email accounts. This allows the merchant to have greater access to the email account that the buyer regularly reads and uses.

  13. I think this will be the final blow to the discussion which is better.
    With Paypal you will NEVER be spammed or your address be forwarded to someone who’d spam you through GOOGLE’S OWN CHECKOUT EMAIL.
    With Google you’ll, and the damnedest thing, your customers will start to receive hundred of spam emails to your inbox due to the stupidity of the randomized email address they set up and the fact that they don’t consider anything coming from themselves as spam. Best thing of all, it will seem to your customers that the spam email is coming from you. Yayyy!
    So yeah, go with Google if you want. I can bet anything that after you get this issue Google won’t even listen to you or your customers. They just would be TOO busy.

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